A blog covering security and security technology.
  1. Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Can Edit Their Own Genome

    Amazing: Revealing yet another super-power in the skillful squid, scientists have discovered that squid massively edit their own genetic instructions not only within the nucleus of their neurons, but also within the axon -- the long, slender neural projections that transmit electrical impulses to other neurons. This is the first time that edits to genetic information have been observed outside...
  2. Story of Gus Weiss

    This is a long and fascinating article about Gus Weiss, who masterminded a long campaign to feed technical disinformation to the Soviet Union, which may or may not have caused a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s, if in fact there even was a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s. Lots of information about...
  3. On Cyber Warranties

    Interesting article discussing cyber-warranties, and whether they are an effective way to transfer risk (as envisioned by Ackerlof's "market for lemons") or a marketing trick. The conclusion: Warranties must transfer non-negligible amounts of liability to vendors in order to meaningfully overcome the market for lemons. Our preliminary analysis suggests the majority of cyber warranties cover the cost of repairing the...
  4. Facial Recognition for People Wearing Masks

    The Chinese facial recognition company Hanwang claims it can recognize people wearing masks: The company now says its masked facial recognition program has reached 95 percent accuracy in lab tests, and even claims that it is more accurate in real life, where its cameras take multiple photos of a person if the first attempt to identify them fails. [...] Counter-intuitively,...
  5. Internet Voting in Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico is considered allowing for Internet voting. I have joined a group of security experts in a letter opposing the bill. Cybersecurity experts agree that under current technology, no practically proven method exists to securely, verifiably, or privately return voted materials over the internet. That means that votes could be manipulated or deleted on the voter's computer without the...
  6. Hacking Voice Assistants with Ultrasonic Waves

    I previously wrote about hacking voice assistants with lasers. Turns you can do much the same thing with ultrasonic waves: Voice assistants -- the demo targeted Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby -- are designed to respond when they detect the owner's voice after noticing a trigger phrase such as 'Ok, Google'. Ultimately, commands are just sound waves, which other researchers...
  7. Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Orders Down in Italy

    COVID-19 is depressing the demand for squid in Italy. The article is a week old, and already seems almost comically quaint. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered. Read my blog posting guidelines here....
  8. Emergency Surveillance During COVID-19 Crisis

    Israel is using emergency surveillance powers to track people who may have COVID-19, joining China and Iran in using mass surveillance in this way. I believe pressure will increase to leverage existing corporate surveillance infrastructure for these purposes in the US and other countries. With that in mind, the EFF has some good thinking on how to balance public safety...
  9. Work-from-Home Security Advice

    SANS has made freely available its "Work-from-Home Awareness Kit." When I think about how COVID-19's security measures are affecting organizational networks, I see several interrelated problems: One, employees are working from their home networks and sometimes from their home computers. These systems are more likely to be out of date, unpatched, and unprotected. They are more vulnerable to attack simply...
  10. The Insecurity of WordPress and Apache Struts

    Interesting data: A study that analyzed all the vulnerability disclosures between 2010 and 2019 found that around 55% of all the security bugs that have been weaponized and exploited in the wild were for two major application frameworks, namely WordPress and Apache Struts. The Drupal content management system ranked third, followed by Ruby on Rails and Laravel, according to a...

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